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Oh Bretagne!

The roads are small and twisty. The roadside fans are 50% bovine, and the sun and rain switch in and out with the snap of the fingers.

By Laura Fletcher

Wales? The Alps? No, indeed we are in France.

10 min read by Laura Fletcher

In the Northwest corner, the wild Atlantic region of Bretagne, or Brittany as it’s known in English.

And what better backdrop for a start of the Tour de France than this region, in what has been a brilliant first few days so far of the race. Its cliffs, its capes, its natural harbours dot the edges of the camera coverage.

Stage one of the 2021 Tour de France will sadly, probably be remembered mainly for the mass crashes along the side of the road.

So let’s focus on the early morning hours instead...

When La Course by le Tour, the one-day women’s race took on the same roads, the same thrilling final and saw Demi Vollering narrowly pip out her foe on the line, setting the stage for a thrilling Olympic road race next month.

The quaint villages with their stone facades, the local dialect echoing out, a language steeped in Gaelic origins and the curving and undulating lanes creating challenging parcours. Speaking of the language, Breton is considered to be one of six Celtic nations, giving it cultural and linguistic ties more commonly seen to its north. But due to its location and history, its fiercely independent people.

RIDE: Basilique – Bnnb Loop from Quintin

Enjoy the picturesque Quintin town and test the legs on this intermediate ride

In the women’s race, the late attack group almost made it to the line, the strong fighting legs taking on the ups and downs, and with a bit more cohesion we may have seen a more surprising winner.

The crowds lined the Cote de la Fosse aux Loups, for the first of the two races of the day.

With under 10 k to go, the 10+ group off the front saw their 2 minutes lead reduced to a minute, and then 30 seconds and then within moments being swallowed up by the Peloton, as the strongest climbers and punchy finishers out of the main bunch would not settle for the second group.

Back in Brest, at the startling of stage one, the men’s teams watched the women’s finale, gaining whatever crystals of insight they could for what lay ahead. The wind was blowing and the sun was losing its fight against the rain-filled clouds, hanging low over the landscape.

When in Bretagne, if you can tear yourself away from the endless routes of lanes and pathways, if you can spare some time for a cafe stop, the first thing to try is the Galette. A Bretanique crepe, made with the strong buckwheat flour from the area, and the butter so rich it could end up on the Fortune 500 list.

RIDE: Intermediate loop from Loudeac

On Sunday, the second day of the Tour, the peloton was set to take on the infamous Mur de Bretagne, the namesake climb of the region, with an extra lap thrown in for measure and to delight the fans with an extra circuit. Luckily, after the hectic and crash-marred stage one, everyone seemed to be playing it a bit safe, and the peloton had the time to take in the scenery, the hills and fans, the art and the tractors, the producers and farmers, students and families alongside the forever up and downhills.

If you’ve been watching the Tour on TV, we assume you are like us, just 100% inspired to get on the bike and cycle on these roads. To see the black and white of the Bretagne flags flying, and of course to tuck into a stubby glass of world-famous Bretanique Cidre at the end of the day.

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